Chandigarh: The Punjab Assembly on Friday passed a resolution by voice vote against the controversial CAA, seeking its repeal by the Centre.
Participating in the discussion in the state Assembly on the resolution, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) was against the secular fabric of the country and claimed that events unfolding now were similar to the ones witnessed in Germany in 1930s when Adolf Hitler was at the helm.
Singh termed the Act as "divisive" and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) as a "tragedy" and said he was unfortunate to witness in his lifetime the events unfolding now in the country.
"You want to change secular fabric of this country. It is very sad what is happening now. We had not even thought of such a thing. We want to break brotherhood merely for politics," he said.
"Clearly, no lessons have been learnt from history," the chief minister added.
The Punjab Assembly resolution also urged the Centre to put on hold the work on the National Population Register (NPR) till forms or documents associated with it are amended suitably in order to allay apprehensions that it is a prelude to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and designed to deprive a section of people from citizenship of India and implement the CAA.
The Punjab chief minister in an emotional tone said, "Where will poor go and from where will they procure their birth certificates...This is a great tragedy. And I am very sorry to say that in my lifetime...I wish I was not here when this is happening to my country, where are we going to be in a situation where brotherhood is being broken for politics."
The Congress leader said it was ethnic cleansing in Hitler's Germany in 1930s and claimed that now same events are unfolding in India.
"Germans did not speak then, and they regretted it, but we have to speak now, so that we don't regret later," he asserted, urging the Opposition, particularly the Akalis, to read Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' to "understand the dangers" of the CAA.
He said he would get the book translated in Punjabi and distributed so that all could read and grasp the "historical mistakes that Hitler made".
"What is happening in India is not good for the country. People including students could see and understand, and are protesting spontaneously, without any instigation," he said referring to the recent anti-CAA protests in different parts of the country.
Singh made it clear that the Census in Punjab will be conducted on the old parameters.
The new factors added by the Centre for the purpose of the NPR would not be included, the chief minister said.
"The Census will take place shortly. It will be done in old way as it has been done in the past. We will not follow the new Act," he said.
Making an impassioned appeal to the Akalis to rise above politics and "go by their conscience and think about their own country before deciding on their vote", Singh said he had never imagined such a tragedy could happen in a secular country like India, which had more Muslims than Pakistan.
"Where will all those people, who you brand as non-citizens, go? Where will the 18 lakh people declared illegal in Assam go if other countries refuse to take them? Has anyone thought about it? Has Union Home Minister Amit Shah even thought about what has to be done with the so-called illegal people? Where will the poor people get their birth certificates from?" asked the chief minister.
"We all have to live together as citizens of secular India in our own interest," he added.
"People of all faiths have lived harmoniously together in this country all these years, and Muslims have given their lives for this country," Singh said, citing the example of Indian Army soldier Abdul Hamid, who received the Param Vir Chakra posthumously for his actions during the 1965 Indo-Pak war.
"Why have Muslims been excluded? And why have they (Centre) not included Jews in the CAA?" he asked, pointing out that Punjab earlier had a governor, General JFR Jacob, who was a Jew, and who fought for the nation in the 1971 war.
"Those responsible for this situation should be ashamed of themselves," said the chief minister, even as he lashed out at the Akalis for supporting the legislation in Parliament and then speaking on it in "different voices to promote their political agenda".
Pointing out that Punjab had just celebrated the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, who taught that "koyi Hindu nahin, koyi Mussalman nahin, sab rab key bandey (no one is a Hindu, no one a Muslim, all is God's creation)", Singh asked the Akalis if they had forgotten the Guru's teachings.